This Is What Happened in the Missing Malaysian Plane Saga While You Were Sleeping


In just the past 24 hours, the mystery surrounding missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has grown both slightly clearer and more elusive. Investigators from more than 10 countries are scrambling to find the modern Boeing 777 aircraft that departed from Kuala Lumpur and was set to land in Beijing on Saturday. On day four of the international search for Flight MH370, here is what you need to know.

Stolen passport users have been identified. 

Authorities have identified the two passengers who used stolen passports to board the flight. They are both young Iranians, 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and 29-year-old Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza. Malaysian police believe that one of the men was trying to emigrate to Germany in hopes of seeking asylum. 

Image Credit: ABC News Go

Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar of the Royal Malaysian Police said that investigations of Mehrdad show that he is not likely part of a terrorist organization. 

The two men allegedly travelled to Malaysia on their Iranian passports, then apparently switched to the stolen Austrian and Italian documents.

Terrorism seems unlikely, but hasn't been ruled out yet. 

While a terrorist organization called the Chinese Martyr's Brigade has claimed responsibility for the missing flight, officials are skeptical about the claim. 

In a press conference Tuesday, Malaysian police downplayed the likelihood of terrorism, though it remains a possibility. 

"The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble.

The plane was in good condition.

Malaysia Airlines said Tuesday that the plane had had a maintenance check less than two weeks before it vanished on March 8. The next one was not due until June 19.

Image Credit: AP

Governments deploy high-tech search systems. 

The massive investigation has drawn in navies, military aircraft, coast guard and civilian ships from 10 nations. The coordinated efforts have unfortunately failed to turn up any trace of the plane.

To aid the immense search, the Chinese government has ordered the use of 10 satellites in orbit to assist investigators. The satellites will help in communications and weather monitoring while looking for debris, among other things. 

The United States is deploying naval technology off the coast of Malaysia to help detect small debris in the ocean. According to CNN, the technology includes a Navy P-3C Orion Aircraft, which can cover approximately 1,500 square miles every hour with its sensors.

Richard Quest, CNN aviation correspondent, described what lies ahead as "extremely painstaking work," as experts probe the sea. Quest suggested that investigators will have to draw a grid over the ocean for teams to scour one by one. 

A satellite imaging firm is crowdsourcing the search.

One U.S.-based satellite imaging firm, DigitalGlobe, is crowdsourcing the search for Flight MH370. The company will provide the public with images taken around suspected crash areas, allowing Internet users to scour the images for any sign of the plane. 

"For people who aren't able to drive a boat through the Pacific Ocean to get to the Malaysian Peninsula, or who can't fly airplanes to look there, this is a way that they can contribute and try to help out," Luke Barrington, senior manager of Geospatial Big Data for DigitalGlobe, told ABC News.

Images from the same company have helped in disasters like floods and typhoons, and to locate missing hikers.

The flight manifest has been released.

The full list of names of the 239 people aboard the vanished Malaysia Airlines flight has been released. 

Credit: Washington Post

Passengers' phones are still ringin.g 

In a haunting phenomenon, families and friends of those now missing aboard Flight MH370 report that when they dial passengers, their phones continue to ring. Experts say the ringing phones may just be due to how mobile networks operate. Just because the phone is ringing on the caller's end, does not mean that the phone of the receiver is actually ringing, said wireless analyst Jeff Kagan to NBC News

Is there a possibility of explosion? 

Lassina Zerbo, executive director of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, explained that "infrasound," infrasonic sensors, will be deployed to help search for any sign of an explosion. 

"There's a possibility, it's not absolute, that the technology like [infrasound] could be able to detect" an explosion, he said.

No possibilities have been eliminated yet.

While no possibilities have been ruled out yet, police have stated that there are four main scenarios investigators are focusing on: hijacking, sabotage, personal problems among the crew and passengers, and psychological problems among the crew and passengers.